Puccini’s Turandot at the Los Angeles Opera

June 4th, 2024

“Soprano Angela Meade’s voice is robust and powerful, surpassing even her remarkable performance in LA Opera’s 2002 production of “Roberto Devereux.” Her extraordinary talent made it evident that we were witnessing a historic moment in opera, one destined to be remembered as legendary.” Indulge Magazine – G. Dhalla

“Los Angeles Opera’s Turandot, which opened last night at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, is a resounding success, immersing audiences in a mélange of artistic splendor and vocal magnificence that elevates the experience to extraordinary heights. David Hockney‘s imaginative sets and vibrant staging, coupled with the star performances of Angela Meade and Guanqun Yu, breathe life into the epic tale with emotional depth and aesthetic grandeur that is nothing short of breathtaking…Angela Meade, in her inaugural portrayal of Turandot, exhibited formidable vocal prowess and dramatic fervor. She adeptly captured the princess’s frigid heart with a riveting performance. Her voice, commanding and soaring over the orchestra, shone particularly during the opera’s climactic junctures. Meade’s Turandot transcended mere aloofness, revealing layers of vulnerability. Her execution of “In questa reggia” was striking, masterfully conveying Turandot’s complex emotions and regal contempt, ensuring we were attuned to every subtlety of her transformation.” Stage and Cinema – Michael M. Landman-Karny

“Here’s the thing about singing Puccini’s Turandot, you spend an entire act and a half backstage cooling your heels with just a brief peek onstage halfway through Act I. Meanwhile, you are the only topic of conversation for every character on stage. Then you’re supposed to saunter on to all that fanfare and advance press halfway through the opera, while everyone else has had plenty of time to warm up, and deliver like a boss. Which is exactly what Ms. Angela Meade did. She was literally ferocious from the first. The voice was perfectly placed with none of that tentative reaching for high notes (which start coming pretty fast). Plus, the bottom of that voice has filled out considerably to juicy effect. She literally sailed through “In questa reggia.” She was also determined to involve the audience in her story– she was so completely committed to the text you could have taken dictation from her. How many sopranos have I heard who started so tentatively that they didn’t actually start ‘singing’ until halfway through Act III, almost afraid to pronounce the words? The result is some weird combination of solfège with consonants.

At the conclusion of the aria, Mr. Thomas joined in for the bit with ‘anything you can sing I can sing higher’ and they both ended up on the ‘C’ in alt and, children, it was g-l-o-r-i-o-u-s. Just as things quieted down, a single person in the back broke into the most rabid applause for a hot second. I felt it, but the rest of us were too stunned to move. Then she unleashed one of the most titanic “Straniero, Ascolta!”s I’ve ever heard (in one breath mind you) and I was afraid the oxygen mask over my seat was going to deploy.

My favorite moment was after the second riddle when the Emperor called out for Calaf to have courage and she gave her dad some atomic side-eye. Then when he got the answer right, she marched over to the three wise men, grabbed the scroll, and flung it out of sight like, “these riddles are crap.” The melodrama was fabulous. When Mr. Thomas triumphed, and she was begging daddy not to marry her off, she did some very nifty dominating of the ensemble, climbing the hill up to the high C’s and blazing out over the top of the entire chorus and orchestra not once, but twice. At this point I was pretty certain the first three rows of the audience were suffering from tinnitus. Not to be outdone, Mr. Thomas took the optional high C in ‘ardente’ because it was that kind of evening.

Then we were back at “Clash of the Titans,” except Ms. Meade literally melted during her “Del primo pianto.” She intentionally and deliberately softened the top of her voice so it was all warmth and started really leaning into her bel canto training. Then, Mr. Thomas revealed his name and we were back with ‘anything you can sing I can sing louder’ and my ears were literally ringing in my seat (no joke).

I don’t know where the final set comes from. It just drops out of the flies and appears in front of you like magic. Plus, after all of that, it’s dazzling to look at in-person. When the curtain came down, it was the first time in LA I’ve seen a standing ovation start before there were any performers back on stage for the calls.

I’m sorry I wasn’t out on the plaza to see the white smoke puff out of chimney from the top of the Dorothy Chandler for Ms. Meade.” Parterre – Patrick Mack

“One of the highlights of this production was undoubtedly the cast’s stellar performance. The role of Princess Turandot demands both vocal prowess and dramatic intensity, and soprano Angela Meade rose to the occasion magnificently. Her portrayal of the icy princess was both commanding and vulnerable, capturing the character’s inner turmoil with grace and power.” Arts Beat LA – Pauline Adamek

“Without question, Meade strikes a formidable figure as Turandot, physically and vocally. The impact of her voice is palpable, capable of cutting through the full force of the orchestra like an executioner’s blade or projecting to the rafters like an artillery shell. The combined power Meade wields with Thomas is titanic.” Classical Voice SF – Jim Farber

“Angela Meade’s Turandot is just as mesmerizing, her soprano voice soaring with clarity and strength. Her portrayal of the icy princess is both commanding and nuanced, conveying the inner turmoil and eventual transformation of her character with remarkable skill.” ParisLA – Yann Perreau

“Angela Meade, the Turandot, has a powerful and vigorous soprano. The role (and the sizeable orchestra) seemed to hold no terrors for her. Her tone was firm and unwavering. Her singing was strong and unflagging. It was also a performance with subtlety and delicacy – when describing the plight of Turandot’s ancestor Lo-u-Ling in “In questa reggia”, and uttering the word “amore” in the final duet.” Classical Voice – Truman C. Wang

“Soprano Angela Meade, who was last seen at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion as Elisabetta in the pandemic-encroached Roberto Devereux, returns with a vengeance as the fierce and unsympathetic Turandot who has her reason for distrusting men: Her ancestress Princess Lo-u-Ling and her kingdom were once ravaged by a long-ago King of the Tartars and his men. As an inheritor of this trauma, Turandot guards against a potentially horrific future by clinging to the narrative of her people’s past. Communicating this truth, Meade bowls over the audience with “In questa reggia,” cobbling the intensity of a thousand suns which reverberates preternaturally and overpowers an entire collective around her. Meade, in addition, does her part to elevate the percussion-intensified riddles scene with Thomas’s Calàf to a level that has audience members on the edge of their seats before evincing her versatility by portraying a more thawed-out, vulnerable Turandot in the opera’s final moments.” LAExcites.com – Imaan Jalali

“Taking on the titular role, Angela Meade is the star of the evening, her piercing voice capturing the iciness of the murderous princess and later earning our sympathies as she explains her motives. Russell Thomas’ Caláf is a fitting counterpart, alchemizing the murmurs of excitement which greet the opening chords of “Nessun dorma” into roaring applause. The final act between the two rivals in the palace’s garden is one of the most visually and aurally stunning performances likely to appear on an LA stage this season.” Broadwayworld.com – Andrew Child

“Angela Meade and Russell Thomas, local favorites with impressive international careers, are two of the more ideal singers for the demanding lead roles of Turandot and Calaf and they made this revival an appealing prospect…In her role debut as the icy princess, Meade’s powerful voice was thrilling, with intonation and ferocity spot on.” Bachtrack – Matthew Richard Martinez